a note to indie authors
I tell myself that I shouldn’t judge on such superficial things. But when there are so very many books to choose among, there are things that immediately make me prejudge a book as being sloppy or amateurish. I was tempted to put the covers up here as examples, but I’m not a fan of shaming people.
For the most part, these things boil down to my dislike of being careless about words. If authors aren’t careful about these meanings, how can I trust them to use words correctly in the book itself?
Typo in the title: An immediate turnoff. I found two like that yesterday looking for new releases. One lacked an apostrophe for a possessive, the other had a misspelling.
Including a description or promo in the title: This kind of thing: Bibliostatic, a wonderful book review blog that all should read–or even just Bibiliostatic, a book review about fantasy books. When I see this on Amazon, I cringe. It’s not just unprofessional—it strikes me as needy.
Not formatting the book correctly: If I open the book and the text is not separate from the front matter or the font size or line height makes it difficult to read, I peace out.
Not having a publisher listed: It’s a really stupid prejudice on my part, but I want to see that the author is serious enough that they set up an imprint to publish under. So often indie authors omit this step.
Having the publisher listed with “LLC”: Look at how the Big5 or small presses do it (which is pretty good advice across the board). They just put the name of the publisher, not the corporate entity ending. That may be the legal name of the company, but there’s no reason to include it here. Again, it feels like a failure to adequately educate yourself about the business you’ve entered into.
Listing a support service as the publisher: There are various services for self-publishing. If they say the word “self-publishing,” they are not your publisher! A few of these I’ve seen listed as the publisher: PublishNation, CreateSpace, and Ingram Spark.
Using the same title as a bunch of other books: Rather than carelessness, this reflects a concern that the book is unimaginative or trite if they can’t come up with something new.
Messy/difficult-to-read cover: This is a hard one to explain without showing examples, so I made a faux one. If the cover is, well, covered from top to bottom with text, it bothers me.
First, there’s just too much text. Second, many of the letters are lost because of the lack of contrast. Third, it’s not easy to read at a glance.
I’d go with the same idea that designers are *supposed* to use with billboards: something that can be read at a glance while traveling at high speed.
Asha at A Cat, A Book, And A Cup Of Tea was kind enough to share her turn-offs: “poor cover artwork, bad reviews noting poor grammar/spelling, authors promoting inappropriately on social media (DMs, cold-tagging, replying to irrelevant tweets with buy links), authors who don’t read review policies!” Asha notes that these problems are not confined to self-published books. I agree, although the issues seem to come up less often in traditionally published books.
The point of all this is to say that indie authors have control over all of these issues in a way traditionally published authors don’t, so use that control so that readers will look at the candy, not the wrapper.
Any superficial qualities that make you avoid a self-published book?